Leading a Fight with Jordan McConnell of the Crohn’s Veteran Podcast


Today we chat with Jordan McConnell who is the co-host and founder of the Crohn’s Veteran Podcast. 

Like many of our guests who start a cause-based podcast, it is a calling they feel to lead, and he understands that his and the other co-hosts story can help others. The premise for the podcast is to simply bring awareness and bring like hearted stories of others who live with Crohn’s diseases and other irritable bowel syndromes related illness.  

The podcast is just getting started with fifteen episodes published and Jordan opens up about the lessons learned already and why Twitch and YouTube was the right platform to branch out on. 

Community around his cause is something they are closely working on creating with each new episode and bringing people together.  

Like many foundations fundraising during a COVID-19 area has changed and evolved, and he talks about how the Cure for Colitis foundation has had to evolve to keep the mission alive. 

Key Topics:
  • Why start a podcast about Crohn’s Disease? (1:24)
  • Why doing a co-host model made sense for them? (3:20)
  • What does it mean to be a Crohn’s Veteran? ( 5:22)
  • Benefits of being on Twitch and YouTube as a podcaster? (8:50)
  • What struggles were faced when first getting started? (10:57)
  • As a cause based podcast, what problems are you currently working through? (12:00)
  • Who is the Crohn’s Foundation and how are they raising money during COVID-19? (14:44)
  • What is the biggest lesson you would share for someone who about to start their own causepod? (17:42)
  • A simple method to raise awareness of the cause and the podcast (18:52)
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Hi and welcome to Cause I’m your host, Matthew Passi, here on the podcast, we have one simple mission to highlight. The amazing folks are using podcast as a way to raise awareness for good causes. Whether it’s a non-profit, they work with a charity, they support a social justice campaign.

They’re championing a medical condition they’re battling or somebody who is just looking to make a positive impact on their local community, their state, the country or the world. These are podcasters with a positive mission, along with raising awareness for our guests favorite cause. We’re also going to see if we can raise some money to support their efforts. So make sure you check out the show notes for each episode and calls Pogs Dog to learn more about what they’re doing, how to help them achieve their goals.

Taking you out to Nebraska today, where we are chatting with Jordan McConnell, he is the creator of the Crone’s veteran podcast and he has a couple of co-hosts who are joining us.

But as you can imagine, him and his co-hosts, their mission is to enrich the lives of people with Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases. Jordan, thank you so much for joining us here on Cosponsored Cosponsoring.

Thank you for having me, Matthew. I appreciate the invite. I have to assume that since you are doing a podcast all about Crohn’s, that you are not just doing this for fun, that Crohn’s or bowel syndrome is something you deal with. So I’m going to skip the whole, you know, what’s that like and go right to. Why did you decide that as part of your battle with the syndrome in this part of your life and what you’ve been dealing with, why did you and your buddies decide that you want to do a podcast all about this?

Well, first of all, it just started off as a as a Instagram kind of page that I had called Crohn’s veteran. And, you know, and the reason that I created Crohn’s veteran is that I was you know, I find it hard to kind of come out of my shell and kind of reach out and look for people that had the disease and and that I could relate to and break bread with, you know, and learn from. And so and the more I looked around, you know, at the scene, you know, online on the Gladis Foundation’s website or other like nonprofit websites or or Facebook or Instagram, you know, I just couldn’t find people that, you know, that had a story similar to mine.

They either looked like me or talk like me or has similar experiences to me, you know, even though I was pretty sure that, you know, I’m not alone here, that has to be a lot of folks in the world that are going through what I’m going through. And so I created Crone’s veteran to, you know, to share the day to day life of a dad with, you know, Crohn’s disease and, you know, African-American guy and this and then also trying to, you know, improve his life.

And he was interested in, you know, consistency and discipline and know and and also uplifting people and enriching the lives of others. And then also, I just tried to make an impact on, you know, especially people of color lives. And that was one of the bigger the biggest things was kind of being the changes, being the change they kind of want to see in the world. Up until I really got into, you know, Instagram and stuff, I didn’t see very many folks and now I do.

And so then I started doing the podcast, actually. And so in the end, the inspiration for that, there is a guy that I actually met on Instagram that was in England, 18 year old guy, young guy. And he was doing a lot of awareness advocacy for Crohn’s disease. He had it himself. And so he’s 18. He has Crohn’s disease. You know, he’s going through all these symptoms and he has like a speech impediment.

He’s autistic and he’s out there, you know, just sharing, you know, sharing his life and sharing his story and trying to, you know, inspire people like. Wow. Well, you know, if this 80 year old guy could do it, you know, what’s it that also he put out a podcast. So he’s like, well, man, you put out a podcast. You know, he’s doing all this stuff like, well, this 18 year old, you know, this 80 year old guy is doing this, you know, what am I sitting around doing it?

So it’s you know, it’s like you’re like a super asparagus. And so I definitely credit his name is Mason Mason Milne. And so I definitely credit him for inspire me to record my first episode. And they kind of, you know, share my story. And, you know, I was like, well, man, you know, the first episode is probably going to suck, but it will get better and better and better as the more I do it.

So I started doing some kind of around the same time as that. I started doing some Instagram lives to kind of get out of my shell some more. And so and one of the people I interviewed was a guy named S.J Cabrera, who’s a Marine Corps veteran who has ulcerative colitis. So me and him actually clicked pretty well. I did the interview with him and then a little bit back and forth, we know we decided that, you know, maybe it would be really cool because my co-host and so for the show and so, so easily and so he came along and that’s been really, really fun.

He has a lot of other talents and skills and abilities, you know, in addition to being a really, you know, conversationalist. And so then also the other my other co-host, you know, we were looking, you know, we decided that we wanted to balance out what we’re doing with an African-American woman. And so they know they had they had Crohn’s disease or or inflammatory bowel disease of some kind. And just to kind of get different perspectives and, you know, to be able to, you know, interview people and make people feel comfortable, you know, get different stories and stuff.

You get different perspectives and silverside stuff. So it’s really, really cool that now not only do we have you know, now her name is Reneke, a woman from North Carolina. So so she’s my co-host. She has Crohn’s disease. And she talks about body image and kind of positivity and stuff, you know, for IBD and then myself. And I’m kind of the founder of the show and talk about it on that kind of the business, the entrepreneurship stuff also just, you know, kind of just consistent growth and being better.

And then my other KOSTJA, you know, he’s really interested in, you know, gaming and CBT and and also just. Yeah, just sharing ulcerative colitis, you know, and on how, you know, it kind of bringing awareness to that. And he does a lot of cool. There’s also a twitch streamers, so you can check him out at a chill, go on, Twitch. So, you know, I want to talk about all the different platforms that you use, but I want to just get back a little bit to the focus of the show.

So it’s Crone’s veteran. And before we jumped on, you were telling us that you are, in fact, a veteran that you served. And thank you, of course, for that or both of your co-hosts, also veterans of some sort. One of them is.

And so it’s a CCJ. C.J. was there was no one in the Marine Corps. I think he did like standard for four year tours. And then and then afterwards is he actually got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after his service. And so he is he was I think the plan for him was to do to be don’t join the police force and become like a SWAT team member. And and then while he was in school for that kind of ulcerative colitis hit out of nowhere.

And he’s been kind of sick ever since. And his mindset is, you know, despite his setbacks, is inspirational, which is the reason, you know, he’s a very he’s a Crohn’s veteran type dude. And so Raniga doesn’t have a military background, but she’s given that again, she has Crohn’s disease, you know, and the experiences that she’s had with that. I know she has a ileostomy. It’s having a bypass of that part of the digestive system.

Very, very serious. Crohn’s disease affects people in very different ways. And so in a lot of those symptoms are unpleasant. And so to me, people that are willing to, you know, get in front of the world and, you know, share their stories about IBD are admirable. And that’s why, you know, the three of us, I think, you know, it’s really fun that we all we’re all doing that and we can hopefully bring awareness to other people.


I mean, I think also the imagery of the veteran is so important in this because Crohn’s is one of those things that there’s no cure really like this is something that folks who are afflicted are going to be battling, as you say, forever. Right. We could treat it. We can deal with and things like that. But. Right. It is a lifelong battle. And so I think that visualization of the veteran is a great way to think about it.

I’m sure it kind of gives a lot of support and strength to your community as well, that you sort of, you know, identify everybody as a veteran of this.


Right. Yeah. You know, I definitely like the idea. I mean, I floated the idea of, you know, making a little girls better and dog tags or, you know, better, like, you know, like awesome like a challenge coins or something like that, you know, just to get you know, because I think that I think yeah. I mean, you’ve you’ve been through it and it’s like nobody that, you know, challenge you on that.

You know, you’ve you’ve done the work that just getting up every day and they know it and going through life, you know, you know, having this having this condition so and so. Yes. Even my own case, I, I was in the Air Force for about eight and a half years total. I did I did five years active duty a year in the California National Guard in Tucson, about two and a half years in the Nebraska National Guard.

And then and that’s actually when I got sick, I went to the emergency room four times in a year, had 18 inches, Michael, and taken out my ileum, taken out. None of it was it’s kind of been sick for several years after that. And and that’s kind of when I said I decided that, you know, I don’t want to be bummed out about being sick. I want to be, you know, happy and, you know, supportive and uplift other people.

And so, yeah. So I’m out of here, you know, being the change I want to see in the world and just trying to inspire people to get the most out of life and not let Crohn’s disease or anything IBD related, you know, stop you from realizing your dreams.

So I want to talk a little bit more about the way you go about this, because you said you started as an Instagram thing and then you’ve moved over to some other platform. So you incorporate Twitch and YouTube into what you do. I know what Twitch is. I have enough since I never actually spent time on it. But do you think that more podcasters should be looking into those platforms as a way to connect to their audience, grow their audience market share?

Like what would you say are the benefits of being on those platforms beyond just the standard podcast? So that’s a good question.

I think, you know, for Twitch in particular, there’s definitely like target audience there. You know, I think in my mind that the gamer community and that’s what Twitch is known for and all the other big famous streamers that people associate with gaming, you know, are a lot of them are on the Twitch platform. And so, again, my co-host is a big gamer. And so one of the things that we’re utilizing Twitter for is, is to find people with IBD that also also enjoy gaming and just trying to create a community of those folks.

And so that’s kind of one of the strategies to do that. But as far as answer your question, should people should podcast people use Twitch? I think so, because because to me it does allow you kind of like an Instagram live or like a Facebook live or a YouTube live. You know, there’s a live chat and a twitch stream engage directly with, you know, your listeners, your followers. You know, people can grib or, you know, if you’re if you’re trying to monetize the channel, they can donate and they know to help you offset the cost of putting putting whatever production you’re doing together.

And so I would personally recommend people do it. I like it. You know, to me, it’s a great medium to to meet people. And I just I just kind of enjoy that live aspect. You know, they may not be for everybody, but I do like the idea of being accessible and being able to talk to people in real time while we’re interviewing somebody. Makes the experience a little bit more, I guess, organic fun. So what do you find to be some of the big challenges with your show?

I mean, so often I talk to folks in the cause related space and, you know, what so many talk about is that it’s hard to grow a show right. Where we are often doing things for people who. Let’s just say it’s another example, right, we’re doing a show about cancer, and so we’re doing a show that often has ways to help prevent cancer, ways they’ll be spotted ahead of time. But no one’s going to listen to that until they actually know they have it right, because that’s just not what’s important to them.

But I guess since you are talking to an audience of folks who probably know or have a sense that this is something that they’ve been dealing with for a long time, like how do you go about growing your show and and what have been some of your hurdles to getting your audience in place?

You know, I mean, I’ve definitely been my show is still pretty young. You know, I’ve been I started my show. I think the first one was published the April 22nd of this of this year. And I don’t have very many subscribers. But then again, if you take one person’s life, I don’t know, it’s it’s kind of one of those kind of magazines. That’s what matters. Right. And so but I’m also like the you know, everything that I read about podcasting and, you know, in producing a podcast on that kind of stuff is that, you know, don’t get too caught up in today, you know, just having, like, a long term mind frame around it and then come a long kind of a pretty healthy time horizon to know to see, you know, don’t worry about this month or worry about a year and a half from now type of thing.

And so that’s kind of what I’m doing with my show a little bit. So the other part of it was that the part of your question, let me ask a different question.

Obviously, we’re not too overly concerned with the numbers, like we’re happy with the community that we’ve built. So what have been some of the other big challenges for you and your co-host in terms of hosting the show, launching the show, marketing a show like where the places that you kind of feel stuck in the podcast that I feel stuck, you know, trying to, you know, trying to get people subscribe, just getting subscribers on the podcast itself.

You know, one of my big channel, you know, we’ve been fortunate that, you know, one of the YouTube channels associated with my with my account, the Twitter stream associated with my account, these are kind of growing. But the actual podcast itself, I’m still trying to balance out, you know, trying to get in a more and more and more listeners for that. You know, as far as you know, we haven’t really had any problems.

I mean I mean, right now it’s everything’s so young. You know, I feel I feel good that, you know, every single week that we you know, that we put out a new show that people are aware of it, that we get you know, we’ve gotten positive feedback. You know, things so far, I just don’t know, like if it’s, you know, if now’s the time to be, you know, to be worried about it or if I’m just, you know, just can’t keep trucking along because, you know, I hear all these kind of counter narratives.

And one narrative will say that just like nothing happens overnight, you know, there are no overnight successes. You know, just keep playing and keep being consistent. Just be consistent. You know, a lot of people don’t even make it to one hundred, like, you know, like a hundred subscribers or, you know, or even 10 episodes. And so and so for that matter. So I’m good right here right now because I work well.

I’m still working on these little small things that, you know, it’s only been, you know, 50 or 60 odd episodes. So why am I talking about, you know, something being so, you know, so new, but I do nothing make me happier, though, to kind of. But what I do want, though, is to the whole idea is awareness.

And so, you know, to be speaking into like an echo chamber, I do like the idea of doing this twitch thing because, you know, you are, you know, in front of an audience that might not be aware of what, you know of IBD because know, they’re gamers and stuff. And so so, I mean, I would say to you know, one of the things that we’re trying to do. Yeah. Is try to get get you get in front of other people, you know, to try to, you know.

Yeah. Global. Yeah. Global people with IBD that’s been one of the things is, you know, this the global community of IBD people, you know, being able to talk to each other about their experiences.

And now before we jumped on the call, we’ll talk a little bit more about your the charity that you ask us to raise awareness for us. Cure Crohn’s colitis dot org.

As you folks can imagine, they are working on a cure for Crohn’s and colitis and other IBD syndromes.

We’ll link to their website. We’d like to turn the page. But you’re also telling us that you were running your own campaign for the Crohn’s Colitis Foundation. Doug, tell us a little bit about the campaign that’s ongoing. By the time folks here, this might be a couple of days left to donate and help Jordan out.

But tell us about what you’re doing with them and maybe if there’s anything you’ve learned from that experience or potential partnerships there that people could tap into for their own podcast, adventures family.

I mean, the IBD community is just about that community. You know, it’s you know, it’s not it’s not feeling isolated. It’s not feeling by yourself. And so something like this foundation does a lot of events for that, for that purpose. And so it’s one of the events that they’re doing for the month of August 2020 is called a get gutsy walk across America. And you can check out the down their website, the ideas. I think I think there’s about 40 chapters of the foundation across the country.

And so the idea is that everybody, everybody in their respective communities, you know, does, you know, walking, running, biking, swimming, et cetera, to, you know, to get outside and get active and on all those miles, you know, are put together to I think the goal is a little bit over twelve, twelve thousand miles. You know, all that. All those. Miles, I think I read into dollars somehow and are used to, again, raise awareness and, you know, enrich the lives of people with Crohn’s disease, you know, through their foundation.

Is that how they’ve always done it or the way it sounds like the way they’re doing this kind of like a do your own thing where so many foundations would do walkathons and, you know, like organized events. But like that sounds like pandemic related planning right now. Is that how that’s going?

Yes, there it is. And so and so that’s exactly what happened. And so the last foundation traditionally yearly across the country does a lot of, you know, group walks, you know, like a lot of fun and fun runs and those kind of things. And people would, you know, get their own shirts made and, you know, they would get teams together and all these different things and, you know, the whole nine yards and know and be out there and, you know, you pay a fee and then those fees go to go to the organization and that kind of stuff.

All that is over. And so and so now everything is, you know, virtual. And so this still allows people. But they have an app. I think they have an app that you can get from the website that still allows you to, you know, you know, interact with and, you know, engage with other people. You know, you can take selfies and stuff and all of your walks and your swim’s and those kind of those kind of things.

And so you can give each other high fives and stuff. And so it’s you still feel like you’re in a community of people that are all working together towards a common goal, which it’s pretty fun. And so. Yeah, so it’s something. Crohn’s Colitis Foundation’s website, they get gutsy walk across America. You can and also you can check it out. I think I have a I have a link to the latest foundation on my Instagram at Crone’s Veteran.

You guys you guys can check it out there, too, and we’ll be sure to get that link from Jordan to put it in the show notes as well so that you can check it out. Whether you are someone who was interested in taking part in what they’re doing in the future, just want to throw some support to Jordan, who is graciously giving us the time and telling us all about his great cause here. You know, I’m sure he and we would all really appreciate anything that you can chip in for them.

As someone who has done this now, you’ve got a dozen episodes or so in the can. You’ve been doing the Instagram and other pieces. What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned about creating media for a cause that you would share with the next person who’s thinking about jumping in on the stuff?

Now, of course, you know, have a plan. You know, I’m not saying that my plan was some kind of, you know, what page book or anything like that. But, you know, but, you know, but even but even if you have and I know and like an idea, an idea in your head of where you want this thing to go, have, you know, the more content, the more episodes that you can have in your mind or at least, you know, subject lines.

You know, if you have four or five areas that you want to hit, try to try to have as many episodes, themes as possible ahead of time. And so and also, if you can bulk record those if possible, you know, that will create a scenario where you’re not looking for content or having, you know, recycled content or anything like that. So, you know, for you know, for you know, for one of the things that I’ve done to raise awareness, raise awareness to people outside of the IBD community, interviewing influent, influential people, I wouldn’t say influencers, but I’ll say, you know, influential people, you know, people that with, you know, large audiences for, you know, for various reasons and stuff and, you know, utilizing them, you know, interviewing them and try to find out, you know, hey, you know, you is anybody in your life that has Crohn’s disease, has IBD, you know, and using that as a Lesa minimum thread to use baby use their audience or to use that to kind of hang out with it or to help.

And so along that vein, there’s a guy who’s out in California, he’s the CEO, Sports one marketing. He’s like a top ten Forbes public speaker. And, you know, he’s been an entrepreneur. He’s an entrepreneur. Magazine Playbook host David Meltzer. And so I was actually fortunate enough to interview him. Our show, C.J. Reneke and I were able to interview him. And so we’re going to be putting that episode and hopefully that will help boost our viewership and, you know, expose Crohn’s disease to a wider audience.

Well, let’s everybody we have been listening to Jordan McConnell.

He is the host of, I should say, co-host of the Crone’s veteran podcast. He does with C.J. Cabrera and Winnicott. Would you can learn more about it at Crone’s veteran dot com. We’ll have a link to that in the show notes as well as their Apple, Google, Spotify links. If you are someone who is fighting Crohn’s or any other inflammatory bowel disease or you just want to help out a great cause, cure Crohn’s colitis again, link there and a link to the donation.

And if you want to learn more about what they’re doing as far as the community events, fundraising and Jordan specific campaign to help raise some awareness and raise some funds, Crohn’s Colitis Foundation dot org. And we’ll get Jordan’s direct donation link in the show notes as well. Jordan, thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your story here on Cosmos today.

Thank you for having me, Matthew, and in good health and good vibes your way, thanks for listening to this episode of Calls Pods. Again, if you’ve been inspired by the work of our guests, please check out the show notes in your podcast app or at cost pods dog. There you will find links to their work and a special donation link to support their favorite efforts. From there. You can also follow and subscribe to the show on Apple podcast, Google podcast or wherever you enjoy your podcasts.

And remember, if you have a cause pot and want to join me for an interview, please check out call spots dog and fill out the interview request form. If approved, we’ll schedule you for a chat and share the amazing work you’re doing with the calls. Pot audience. Thanks again and see you next time on pots.

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